Ole Gunnar Solskjaer not impressed with Astroturf pitch while Paul Pogba is ruled out

Press Association Sport 20:32 02/10/2019
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Paul Pogba has not travelled to Holland for Manchester United‘s Europa League clash with AZ Alkmaar following specialist advice about a foot injury.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side continue their Group L campaign in The Hague on Thursday night, when the World Cup winner will be among a number of high-profile absentees.

Pogba played the entirety of last week’s Carabao Cup penalty shoot-out win against Rochdale and Monday’s 1-1 league draw with Arsenal, but an ongoing foot issue means he will not be heading with United to Holland.

The club said: “Following a specialist’s opinion, Paul Pogba requires a period of further rest and conservative treatment for the foot injury he sustained during the game against Southampton in August. Updates will follow in due course.”

Speaking at his pre-match press conference in Holland, Solskjaer said it would have been too much of a risk to play Pogba, given that the game will be played on an artificial surface.

He said: “It is after discussions with a specialist that we planned that he needs further treatment and rest on his ankle.

“And I probably wouldn’t risk him on Astroturf anyway if he was available for this game. But he needs a bit of rest now.”

Anthony Martial, Phil Jones and Luke Shaw are also absent for the Europa League clash, as is Aaron Wan-Bissaka after missing the Arsenal match with tonsillitis.

Diogo Dalot and Angel Gomes are available for Thursday’s clash, while 19-year-old Brandon Williams has been named in the squad.

Alkmaar are playing in The Hague because of problems with the roof at their own stadium.

Solskjaer admitted he was unimpressed by the pitch, saying: “I was surprised they have chosen to play on this pitch when I looked at it.

“I am used to Astroturf pitches from back home in Norway and it is not the best I have seen. It is one of the worst ones I have seen for a long while.

“We have all got standards back home in Norway. They are all more modern and new, and you get them changed. But it is safe. It is not the newest.

“The ‘grass’ is on the floor, on the carpet more or less. I don’t think they have pulled the grass up to get it to stand and be more bouncy.

“It seems like it has been used a lot. My knees haven’t enjoyed Astroturf but these boys are OK.”

Solskjaer said he would not use the surface as an excuse and his team would adapt.

He said: “It is what it is. It is the same for both of them.

“There is part of the game that will become different. When you play Astroturf, from my experience, there are less tackles and you get lazier in your head because the passes will get there anyway.

“It is impossible to make a misplaced pass – you can’t complain about a bad pitch.”

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